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Does The U.S. Cannabis Industry Turn to one Guy in Puerto Rico?

An Insurance News Net, Inc. Feature

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Sep 16, 2020, 16:47 ET

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico , Sept. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — In 1996, California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, ending a decades long prohibition on the substance. The passage of the first recreational cannabis use laws in Colorado and Washington left those two states with a problem. How should a recreational drug business be regulated? Like many occupations with significant statutory licensing frameworks, new cannabis regulators promulgated rules that obligate cultivators, processors and dispensaries to offer a sort of financial assurance. In the United States that financial guarantee took the form of a surety bond.

A surety bond is a third-party guarantee that a principal, in this case a cannabis license holder, will comply with his or her obligations to the state and to customers. In other words, an insurance company steps in with its good name and creditworthiness and agrees to stand behind the promises of a licensee to “do the right thing.” Surety bonds are largely issued through surety agents that possess experience in bonding. Surety is a small niche product in the insurance world. There are not many insurance agents that specialize specifically in surety insurance. With a unique risk like a cannabis business surety bond, who would step forward in to the unknown? There is one.

From a modest office in Puerta de Tierra , Puerto Rico a surety guy and his staff monitored the advance of regulations, enthusiastic about the possibilities. Surety One, Inc. was prepared. When final regulatory rules were released and a few insurance carriers decided to participate in the cannabis industry, Constantin Poindexter and his Team of underwriters immediately marketed it. The calls and emails came rolling in and haven’t stopped.

Says Poindexter, “I’ve always felt that cannabis products should be available to treat the effects of illness. It’s a quality of life thing from my perspective. I read quite a bit about it and looked at the reasoning behind the states’ push to legalize. It turned out that marijuana wasn’t the scary narcotic that the federal government has made it out to be. We read the bond forms that the states put out, got our heads wrapped around the obligations and decided that this is a space that we want to be involved in. At the start we all laughed when clients requested bonds from us because they asked how we could deliver from a communist island. I guess that they confused us with Cuba .”

There has been no going back. To date, the Surety One, Inc. underwriting office has issued over three thousand surety bonds for marijuana and CBD operators in fifteen states. Operators in states that have legalized marijuana show no signs of abandoning the sector and new jurisdictions appear to be poised to enter. As a risk professional, does the product create a societal concern? Poindexter responds, “I don’t use cannabis but frankly I see no difference between it and alcohol. Do I want my brain surgeon, my airline pilot or my kid’s school bus driver smoking weed on the job? Of course not, but you can’t drink and do those things either. Bottom line, our communities will benefit more from legalization than the risk of abuse.”

/PRNewswire/ — In 1996, California became the first state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes, ending a decades long prohibition on the substance. The…

LEARN | LAWS & REGULATIONS

Puerto Rico

Is weed legal in Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico has legalized medical cannabis use, but adult (recreational) use remains illegal.

Legislation history

In 2015, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed Executive Order OE-2015-010 , ordering the Secretary of Health to authorize some or all components of the marijuana plant for medicinal use for patients residing in Puerto Rico.

Department of Health Administrative Order No. 352 set up initial directives for the possession, cultivation, manufacturing, production, fabrication, dispensing, distributing, and research of medical cannabis.

In July 2017, Padilla signed Act 42-2017 , The Medicinal Act, which replaced the original executive order and set up a legal framework for medical marijuana in Puerto Rico.

Regulation 9038 , enacted in July 2018, further specified the requirements for authorized physicians and allowed for Puerto Rican dispensaries to serve registered patients from US states or other countries where medical marijuana is legal.

The Department of Health (Departamento de Salud) is responsible for regulating Puerto Rico’s medical marijuana program .

Patient registry

Puerto Ricans looking to access medical marijuana must go through an application process and pay a $25 fee. The steps are:

  1. Obtain a medical recommendation from an authorized doctor, which will be sent through the registration platform
  2. Open an account
  3. Create a request and locate the doctor’s medical recommendation
  4. Complete the privacy policy
  5. Submit a passport-size photo
  6. Attach the remaining documents

Purchase

Registered patients with a valid medical marijuana program card can purchase cannabis at a state-approved dispensary .

Consume

Consumption is limited to private homes or private places where owners authorize the consumption of medical cannabis. According to marijuana laws in Puerto Rico, smoking weed is illegal, but the following forms of consumption are allowed:

  • Capsules or tablets
  • Concentrates
  • Edibles
  • Oil
  • Oral drops
  • Oral inhalers
  • Suppositories
  • Topical ointments and creams
  • Transdermal patches
  • Vaporization of cannabis flower or concentrate
  • Any other means that the Department of Health authorizes

Possess

Registered patients in Puerto Rico are allowed a daily amount of 1 ounce (28 grams) of flower or 8 grams of THC in concentrate or edible form. They can possess up to 30 days’ worth at a time.

Home cultivation is not permitted.

Qualifying conditions

A full list of qualifying conditions to legally purchase cannabis in Puerto Rico is maintained by the Department of Health’s medical cannabis program .

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Anorexia
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Arthritis
  • Autism
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Cancer and chemotherapy treatment for cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Depression
  • Degenerative diseases including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Incurable and advanced diseases requiring palliative care
  • Insomnia
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Migraine
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Persistent muscle spasms
  • Peripheral neuropathies
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Severe nausea
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Any condition that causes cachexia, or wasting disease

Reciprocity

Puerto Rico does allow dispensaries to serve patients with medical cards from their home state or other countries.

This page was last updated September 29, 2020.

View the marijuana laws & regulations for Puerto Rico.